6 Reasons Why You Should Love eBay

eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY  ) has been on an incredible run in the last year. During this time, shares have outperformed the Nasdaq Composite Index by nearly 50% as the company signaled to investors that it's successfully capitalizing on the mobile computing revolution. Additionally, eBay is in a strong position to continue growing all of its major business segments as it continues to build out its global commerce platform. Together, these factors have given investors good reason to justify a seemingly high P/E ratio of 27.

1. A strong core


Q4 2012 Revenue

Change (YOY)

Percent of Total













Source: eBay quarterly earnings press release. All dollar figures are in millions.

Over the past year, eBay enabled over $175 billion of commerce activity, representing nearly 20% of the total e-commerce market. In terms of the global retail market, this volume only made up of 2% of the total, indicating that eBay has a lot of untapped growth potential around the world.

Marketplaces, eBay's core business, has undergone a complete transformation over the last five years as auctions went from 70% of listings to only 30% of listings. In the future, eBay CEO John Donahoe expects auctions to continue losing ground to fixed-price listings as eBay continues prove its worth as an incremental distribution channel for businesses. In particular, eBay's fashion outlet concept has seen increased adoption by many major name brands, and has helped drive fashion to become the most shopped for category on a mobile device. It's become so popular that the company has developed a stand-alone eBay Fashion mobile app.

2. BRICs, baby!
Today, there are approximately 2 billion Internet users, a number that's expected to double in the next three to five years. About 80% of these up-and-coming Internet users will come from the BRIC nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Naturally, these markets offer huge growth potential for eBay's businesses, especially for mobile growth because the majority of these new Internet users will first experience the Internet over a mobile device.

Currently, eBay is the largest e-commerce company in Russia, yet the company doesn't even have a Russian eBay site! Later this year, eBay will release a Russia-specific site, which is part of the company's larger effort to make it easier for buyers and sellers all over the world. In other words, this whole emerging market growth story everyone is talking about is still within the early stages for eBay.

3. No conflict of interest
Unlike Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) , eBay doesn't sell goods alongside its network of sellers. eBay merely provides a platform for buyers and sellers to conduct commerce, which eliminates the conflict of interest Amazon's two-sided business model poses. Amazon is both the platform and the retailer, and that threatens a smaller business' ability to compete against Amazon's massive economy of scale.

4. Payments
PayPal is the current leader in online payments and the company is trying to replicate some of that success in the offline world. The deal between PayPal and Discover Financial is expected to go live during the second quarter of this year, giving PayPal access to 7 million merchant locations across the U.S. For PayPal's entire business to double, it only has to capture just 1% of the point-of-sale market. To say that offline payments are a massive opportunity for PayPal would be an understatement.

5. Mobile edge
eBay is in an envious position when it comes to mobile because the company makes the same amount of money regardless if a transaction is conducted on a PC or a smartphone. Companies like Google and Facebook have had difficulty commanding the same advertising rates between desktop and mobile campaigns, raising concerns that mobile is cannibalizing their businesses models. As consumers continue to blur the line between mobile computing and desktop computing, eBay remains in a leading mobile position. Members are currently buying over 10,000 cars a week on eBay mobile and the company expects that total mobile transaction volume between PayPal and eBay marketplace will exceed $40 billion this year.

6. Early investors
eBay has had a successful history of investing early in future business opportunities, which has helped the company benefit. PayPal has become the clear leader in mobile payments as a result of the company's ability to see the power of mobile early on. Currently, eBay is investing in developing a same-day delivery platform for retailers that leverages excess delivery capacity. If all goes to plan, this service has the potential to not only drive new growth for both its PayPal and marketplaces businesses, but also create an entirely new business segment all together.

A coming sea change
Thanks to advancements in mobile technology, we have reached a massive inflection point in the way consumers pay and shop. According to Donahoe, consumer behavior is about to change more in the next three years than it has over the last 15. While many companies are reacting to this sea change, eBay has taken a proactive approach, which has allowed its businesses to flourish under the mobile paradigm. In the coming years, I fully expect eBay will continue building out its businesses in a way that works for the future. Investors along for this ride are likely to continue being handsomely rewarded for their time.

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Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 23, 2013, at 12:38 PM, bsj42 wrote:

    Now I KNOW it's time to dump eBay.

  • Report this Comment On February 23, 2013, at 6:08 PM, PhilipCohen wrote:

    And the many reasons why you should avoid eBay ...

    The ugly reality for consumers dealing with the clunky, unscrupulous eBay/PayPal complex ...

    "Shill Bidding Fraud on eBay: Case Study #5" ...

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 8:41 AM, CallMeKate wrote:

    I DO love eBay! I've been selling online using their platform since 2002, and it keeps getting better and better. In the beginning it was like an e-garage sale, but as their standards for seller performance have risen, so has the quality of their auctions. Yes, the seller is on the hook for more, but they should be! When I shop at Walmart, Best Buy or Target, they accept returns for any reason. So do I. If I cannot afford to accept returns in my business model, there is something wrong with my business model. I am so tired of all the eBay haters on the web. The reason why the whiners don't "take their toys and go home," is because there is no other viable alternative. No other site offers the widespread visibility or user friendliness that eBay has perfected. I have no problem with my fees; they are a considerable expense, but I get real value for money. I get Customer Service whenever I need it, Accounting help automatically, and I reach a world-wide audience. If I had to hire any of these services or pay rent at a bricks and mortar store, I would have to fold. Sometimes decisions don't go my way with Customer Service, and while that may be frustrating, it's a small price to pay for a great business opportunity that has fed my family well for over 10 years. Thanks, I feel better now.

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